When a crystal comes into my life it usually knows exactly what I need and just starts doing it.
Whether I've been gifted it, picked it up in a shop or searched painstakingly on Etsy for the perfect piece. As soon as it's mine, it's mine, and it's ready to do what it needs to do for me in my life.
I do always clear my crystals when I get them though.
Depending on what I feel I need to do with them when I get them, I will either pop them on my bookshelf, altar, desk or in with some other crystals to sort of welcome them into the family. I like to give them a chance to get used to my energy before I expect too much from them. I like to do this with Tarot decks too. Just let them settle in. Some crystals will settle in within minutes, others will take some time.
Now there are plenty of times when you might want to program your crystal for something really specific, and that's pretty much the only time I program my crystals.
If I'm making a crystal grid for prosperity for example, I will get my citrine out and with intention, spoken out loud or in my mind, I'll start creating my grid. Learn how to make crystal grids with me here!
If I'm going out into London on the weekend (which can be cray energetically!) I'll seek out my protective crystals and put them on with the intention that they are for protecting my energy for the day.